Wednesday, October 14, 2009



Jonathan Swift, Riddles, 4:
Because I am by nature blind,
I wisely choose to walk behind;
However, to avoid disgrace,
I let no creature see my face.
My words are few, but spoke with sense:
And yet my speaking gives offence;
Or, if to whisper I presume,
The company will fly the room.
By all the world I am oppressed,
And my oppression gives them rest.

Through me, though sore against my will,
Instructors every art instil.
By thousands I am sold and bought,
Who neither get nor lose a groat;
For none, alas, by me can gain,
But those who give me greatest pain.
Shall man presume to be my master,
Who's but my caterer and taster?
Yet, though I always have my will,
I'm but a mere depender still;
An humble hanger-on at best;
Of whom all people make a jest.

In me detractors seek to find
Two vices of a different kind:
I'm too profuse, some censurers cry,
And all I get, I let it fly:
While others give me many a curse,
Because too close I hold my purse.
But this I know, in either case
They dare not charge me to my face.
'Tis true, indeed, sometimes I save,
Sometimes run out of all I have;
But when the year is at an end,
Computing what I get and spend,
My goings out and comings in,
I cannot find I lose or win,
And therefore, all that know me say,
I justly keep the middle way.
I'm always by my betters led;
I last get up, am first abed;
Though, if I rise before my time,
The learned in sciences sublime,
Consult the stars, and thence foretell
Good luck to those with whom I dwell.
Answer (in Latin): nates.

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